In response to recent events in Colombia, Bishop Luis Andrés Caicedo Guayara of the Iglesia Colombiana Metodista (Methodist Church of Colombia) issued a pastoral letter.
“Justice shall bring peace, calm and trust forever” (Isaiah 32:17)
To the public, our brothers and sisters in faith, the government of the Republic of Colombia, all government and state bodies, sisters and brothers of our churches and all men and women in our society: Grace, Justice, Peace and Love in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We, the Colombian Methodist Church, who through various ministries are part of the people that inhabit the diverse municipalities of our cities, villages, neighborhoods, indigenous territories. By the grace of God, we are farmers, laborers, students, workers, guardians of our homes, women in leadership, Afro-Colombian leaders, LGBTQI population, teachers, professionals in different areas of knowledge, small business owners, defenders of human rights, participants in diverse social groups, doctors, nurses, health workers, informal workers, unemployed, displaced, dispatchers, etc.; who in our communities preach the gospel among our families, state with profound concern the dangerous and degrading socio-economic situation aggravated by covid-19 which affects above all, the most vulnerable impoverished population of our dear country. We wish to manifest the following pastorally and prophetically:
We bear witness because if we are silent, the stones will cry out (Luke 19:39-40). We state with outrageous astonishment and pain of our own and of our neighbors, that the economic measures announced by the government, which according to experts deepen inequality and injustice (tax reform, labor reform, and health reform) persist in maintaining the gaps of inequality, poverty and ignorance of the reality in which we live day by day. Because these measures favor rich financial capital and consortium banks and deteriorate the middle and lower class, we are equally alarmed by the non-compliance and neglect for consecrated health personnel.
Additionally, the complicit silence regarding the repeated massacres and killing of men and women who lead various production processes and social organizations, human rights defenders, youth organizations; the non-compliance with previous agreements with the various indigenous reservations; add to the official opposition and apathy that leads to a systemic dismantling and delegitimization of the hopeful Peace Agreements between the previous government and the FARC-EP and therefore the interest in eliminating the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).
We also state that the degradation of the country is confirmed by the shameful statistics and acts of corruption of the state entities themselves, exemplified by the unscrupulous and colossal salaries and allowances for the highest officials, wasting the resources that the general public pays in taxes. This undoubtedly has become an oppressive act that has opened and deepened the wounds in the population’s feelings and conscience, likewise producing a general loss of trust in leadership.
We state that the government’s response to such a deep crisis has been ineffective, incompetent and erroneous, which can push us into a maze with no way out, conducive to unleashing an outbreak of violence, destruction and death. There have already been dangerous signs of this risk in recent days. We fearfully warn that such risk is eminent because the government turns a blind eye to the face of the country’s critical reality. By ignoring this reality, the government assumes arrogant positions and throws smoke screens, possibly guided by ideology or in obedience of orders from national and international neoliberal powers, responding by militarizing cities and roads and repressing and killing our Colombian brothers and sisters.
We conceive almost as our own the heartbreaking cry of the multitudes who cry out for justice in peaceful protests on the streets, social media, independent media, among other sectors and social actors, who out of a conscience of just change for all, lift up their voices to raise awareness of the absence of rights, not only in existence but also in quality; people who suffer unemployment and informal work, displaced people and families of false positives, who groan without government assistance. This heartbreaking cry is a groan that reaches God just as it occurred in the deliverance from Egypt (“… I have observed the misery of my people… and I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I have known their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them.” Exodus 3:7) The people’s spirituality and faith trust that “this poor man cried out and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles”(Psalm 34:6).
We as shepherds and sheep of the fold of the Lord Jesus Christ, call on the Executive power, Congress of the Republic, Judicial power, large capital businesses, financial sector and its banks, public force, political parties, mass media and churches to put down the ideological and materialistic attitude of ignoring the cries, groans, protests, demonstrations, marches, art, critical analysis and slogans because in these manifestations there is an encouraging message of a protest that always harbors around an aspiration and hope of change for the common good.
In the same way, we radically oppose the acts of vandalism from small groups from infiltrated suspects with the intention of degenerating the protest marches with the malevolent aim of confusing public opinion, stigmatizing legitimate marches and thus making a way for forceful and repressive government intervention, unscrupulously repressing the population.
Finally, we want to say to the multitudes of people that go out to march in peace that you have the constitutional right to do so and furthermore, that the Lord is with justice and with you and through you we preach the Gospel for the same reasons that you have come together to protest and march to demand justice. Because God has heard our prayer (Psalm 66:19)
We reaffirm our commitment and our call to the dialogue among equals between the national government and the various forces that are mobilizing in the protests. We earnestly ask for prudence mad wisdom from both parts, to cast aside the use of force and humbly abandon the arrogance and intervention of foreign financial, ideological and political forces. An authentic dialogue between compatriots, between public servants and the rest of the population in legitimate acts of protest. This will be the wise attitude that will lead us to reconciliation, unity, justice and then peace: “Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice, she cries out at the entrance of city gates. How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple, relish your mocking and hate knowledge?” (Proverbs 1:20-22)
For the Colombian Methodist Church, its members, its various ministries for women, children, youth, health, etc. its national board and other entities:
Rev. Luis Andrés Caicedo Guayara
Iglesia Colombiana Metodista